I've seen some things regarding the Cubs future. In a fit of frustration I've seen the Cubs call up Arismendy Alcantara because both Darwin Barney and Emilio Bonifacio refuse to hit. I've seen the Cubs manage a midnight extension with Jeff Samardzija and I've seen the Cubs deal an over-performing Jason Hammel to Toronto for Alberto Tirado and other pieces.
I've seen these things because I've done them, and I've done then in Out Of The Park Baseball 2015.
OOTP 15, as its affectionately called, is hands down the best baseball simulation series for the computer that I've ever played. I first picked it up in 2008 and have been playing it ever since. I've lead the Cubs through various championship seasons over the years, they've all been done differently. For the purposes of this review I pulled a deep rebuild that mirrored what the Cubs hope to accomplish in real life. This included a continuation of the tear down happening at the MLB level and a gradual progression of MiLB prospects to the show. We'll get to more details later on in the review, but for now let's review the main components of the game.
You start off as a fictional character and you can choose a team that you wish to work for right off the bat. I did this in two ways. The first time around I went big and went for the Cubs GM job. The second time around I did the slow climb and applied for an Arizona Fall League Manager position hoping to progress through the Cubs' ranks and accede to GM Duties. Both styles of play are gratifying for different reasons, so it really depends on how you want to attack the game.
OOTP is a simulation of real life baseball and it allows to you micro manage at a per-game level, or sit back and simulate through the horrors of a rebuilding season and get yourself to the point that your team is ready to compete. I also did both; at the MLB level I simulated for months at a time, only closely monitoring Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. I pulled the moves I mentioned in the above piece and I did maintenance on the MLB roster. When I was climbing the ranks I played the strategy side in deciding matchups, lineups, pitching rotations, and basically all of the minutiae of managing a baseball team.
The in game management mode is full of strategic options and good color provided by a fun game sim mode that provides an announcer and I'm rather excited about the 3D aspect that should be refined in the coming weeks.
Essentially OOTP manages to combine the best parts of Strat-O-Matic baseball and long term baseball sims like Baseball Mogul into one package. The main nitpick I have with OOTP is that the online way of playing is less than ideal.
I'm a bit of a sim results freak. I like knowing that the numbers line up well and that projections make sense in the long run. OOTP does a nice job of simulating a Major League environment from the financial statements of every team all the way down to the concessions. Player stats are projected out in a manner that jives with my thinking. I haven't done a super long term game quite yet but I'm in year 5 of my Cubs rebuild and I have to say that to this point I can't really disagree with much.
OOTP's aesthetic is revamped this year as the wrapper got a new look and it overall gives the game a more fine appearance. For me this was important as I'm a slave to aesthetics in video games and simulations. You are also given the option to completely customize player ratings and grades. I use the 2-8 scale for player grades but there's the 1-100, the 20-80 and a star system available to you. It's a small thing but it speaks to the complete customization that can take place within the game.
It took an additional two years to get to the playoffs for my Cubs sim. The rotation of Jeff Samardzija, Paul Blackburn and Pierce Johnson was Augmented by Max Scherzer and Doug Fister (both acquired via free agency). Castro, Javier Baez, Alcantara, and Rizzo are all on the infield while Albert Almora, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler man the outfield.
The Sim Cubs win the World Series in 2017 with the crew that's assembled here. This is after a painful rebuild that renders the north siders as "small market team" for a few years leading up. It's a fun game with open ended possibilities. If you think you can do it better or differently it's absolutely worth playing.
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